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Prim-n-Poppin Reimagines Vintage Beauty Ads for Today

Ava Trilling and Coral Johnson-McDaniel.

Nostalgia is always in style. From television show reboots to magazine revivals, everything makes a comeback. Now it’s time for the vintage beauty ads of yesteryear to get their makeover. In a new photo series titled Prim-n-Poppin, photographer Julia Comita and makeup artist Brenna Drury reimagine old-school ’70s and ’80s cosmetic ads by featuring LGBTQ+ and POC models. Advertisement spreads that once only featured predominately cisgender, thin, and white models are now fully upgraded with models of a variety of racial backgrounds and identities including queer, transgender, and non-binary, as well as talent from the body-modification, vitiligo, and body-positive communities. The resulting images are an inclusive and modern reinterpretation of the monotonous ads of the past.

Jesi Taylor Cruz.

“Julia and I asked ourselves, ‘what would the future look like today if these advertisements had been the standard?’” says Drury of the project. “As creatives, we want to challenge the industry to take responsibility for their marketing and diversify their talent pool.” As you peruse through the Prim-n-Poppin site, you’ll find interviews with each featured model about what this project means to them. One of the models, Cory Walker, says: “[Older beauty advertisements] made me feel invisible in a lot of ways. I had to imagine what it would look like if heteronormative beauty standards weren’t so primarily highlighted. It’s a beautiful healing mess when you go from being a kid who never sees a reflection of themselves to dreaming up better than what currently exists. I feel energized when I see a good beauty ad, because I’m like, ‘I can give that and also take it further and bring more identities and levels of beauty along with me. The new vanguard, really.’”

The site also features a list of beauty brands, modeling agencies, and beauty education groups that promote diversity and inclusivity. Drury and Comita have plans to expand the photo series with more models of all ages, gender expressions, body shapes and more. But for now, we’ll relish the sight of the new vanguard.  

Cory Walker.


Maria Rivera.